The end of a horrifying eight-year tenure of one of Nigeria’s greatest political mistakes is barely two months away, and sadly, while Nigerians should be celebrating the release of the shackles from their necks, they rather shiver in fear of what greater penury they might be descending into.
In 2015, when many Nigerians sang the praises of Muhammadu Buhari as the one who had come to save Nigeria from the evil clutches of the then People’s Democratic Party, PDP, those blessed with hindsight and foresight could see that there was no way the same Buhari who had dealt drastically and ruthlessly with Nigerians during his days as the Head of State would bring anything other than suffering, abuse, and forced discipline upon the Nigerian populace.
However, his supporters and praise singers had somehow found a way to redesign and retell the stories of his brutality to Nigerians in the name of War against Indiscipline and his attempt to change the nation’s currency with no justifiable reason, to make him sound like a righteous man and not a draconian ruler that he was, through and through.
The past years under Muhammadu Buhari’s administration have been nothing short of a nightmare for Nigerians that they would have given anything to wake up from. But every day, the nightmare metamorphosed into something worse, something deadlier, until Nigerians, and Nigeria faced a fate worse than death-being alive, but watching your hopes and dreams die with every passing second.
If you placed the realities of Nigeria in 2014 side by side with that of the country today, you might be shocked out of your wits by the drastic change for the worst. In 2014, a bag of rice sold for 8,000. A litre of petrol was under 100 naira, and the average Nigerian could go to the market with their monthly earnings and stock up on foodstuff that would last them for several months.
In 2022, even the new minimum wage of 30,000 cannot feed a family for a single month. Not with a litre of petrol edging towards 300 naira and kerosene well over 400 naira on a good day. Add scarcity into the mix and Nigerians will spend a thousand naira just to get two litres of petrol.
Electricity has continued to worsen despite misguided and poorly-handled privatisation moves across several parts of the industry. Changing the NNPC to NNPCL is akin to taking a pig out of the pigsty, washing it up, and dressing it in fancy clothes. It remains a pig and will waste no time running back to the dirt at every chance it gets.
So, what does one say to a president who made himself the minister of petroleum, only to run the already fragile sector down to the dust, while answering to no one? Buhari not only failed to revamp the refineries in Nigeria as he promised but has spent more money than ever spent in the history of Nigeria on the devilish scheme of fuel subsidy that never benefits the average Nigerian who is either stuck between spending all their earnings on petrol or resigning themselves to darkness, no thanks to the epileptic power supply.
Throw in the widespread poverty, inflation, massive debt burden, widespread unemployment, corruption, police brutality, ethnic and religious unrest, and the just concluded sham of an election, and the stage is slowly getting set for the horror movie that is present-day Nigeria.
One might consider it an absolute waste of time to keep a scorecard for the Buhari administration, but if we tried, we would be gobsmacked by how terrible a person’s performance can be, especially one that was brought in with pomp and pageantry, such as Buhari was.
The economic scorecard of the Buhari’s maladministration is worth a woeful F, as all the programs and structures that were put in place served as nothing more than a conduit pipe for looting and corruption, leaving Nigerians worse off than they were before all the schemes and funds came into place.
Under the Buhari’s inept administration, the annual budget size shot up from N4.5 trillion in 2015 to more than N20 trillion in 2023. However, there is no iota of economic growth to show for it. The MDAs remain moribund despite their yearly allocations. The nation’s security architecture cannot hold itself against the onslaught of terrorists, bandits, Fulani herdsmen, and the more recent unknown gunmen.
The Nigerians who do not die at the hands of these non-state actors suffer an even worse fate at the hands of the nation’s security agents who maim and kill them for no just cause, sometimes, simply because they are youths demanding better governance, or people from a tribe that have been tagged unsuitable for anything good.
With the country’s public debt burden rising to over N48 trillion from N12.5 trillion in 2015, excluding the 2022 budget deficit and over N20 trillion Ways and Means advance from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the country is sinking into the abyss of debt from which it might never return.
With inflation rates at 22 % in 2023, the exchange rate sinking to an all-time low of N750 to a dollar in 2023 compared to N197 in 2015, and an unemployment rate above 37%, Nigerians with no hopes about their survival, thereby sending Nigerians, especially the able-bodied youths out of the country in droves, even if they have to risk their lives to do it. After all, they are doomed eitherways.
Standing at the edge of the precipice, can Nigerians even hope for better from the coming administration?
The answer is a resounding no, especially as Buhari did not hesitate to break the last straw by giving Nigerians the worst election in the history of democratic elections, which saw a corrupt drug lord with no honesty, integrity, or even identity become the president-elect under the same APC that Nigerians have become fed up with.
Who can Nigerians expect to right the wrongs and failures of Buhari in the past eight years, when the party and its spokesperson would rather die or blame it all on the past administrations than admit that they have failed woefully and left the nations in shambles?
Who will save Nigeria from its current status as the poverty capital of the world when the incoming government has already been stamped as a group of looters and thieves of the nation’s wealth?
Who will pay attention to the welfare of the Nigerian youths, when nobody in the ruling party batted an eyelid when youths were shot in cold blood as they sang the anthems of the very nation that ought to protect them?
Nigerians complain that Buhari spent a lot of time travelling to the UK for medical checkups tagged as ear treatments. But the incoming president already practically lives in Europe fighting a health battle that is shrouded in secrecy.
With ethnic and religious crises brewing heavily throughout the country, who is expected to calm the rising tensions and ensure ethnic and religious tolerance?
Now that Buhari has completed his dance of shame and the next dancer comes to take the stage, what is the hope of Nigerians? The coming days are grim. Nigerians must now begin to make a strong case for the restructuring of country as the only forward.